Monthly Archives: April 2015

Recycled Treasures – Take Two

At this time last year was a humbling experience with the loss of a dear friend, which caused us to bow out of what would have been our first show. However, this year, we will actually be at the first big arts and craft show at the Downtown Park in Paso Robles. Officially it is called, get ready: 8th Annual Vintage Sidecar Rendezvous, Recycled Treasures, Antique Motorcycles & British Vintage Car Club. Yes, that’s a mouthful. It’s on Saturday, April 25th between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.

We just call it Recycled Treasures and essentially it is an arts and craft show with classic motorcycles and cars (pre-1950s). Geared as a family event, there will be vendor booths throughout the historic park. The event is produced by the Main Street Association and their information booth will be at the park water fountain on 12th Street where Park Street ends.

The spring setting is idyllic and the show offers an array of wares including furniture, memorabilia, arts and crafts … and of course wine barrels. Yes, we will be there on the corner of 12th Street and Spring, offering Decorative whole and half barrels as well as used barrels including our popular half barrel planters – ideal for this time of year. We will also have individual staves available at a ridiculously low special show price.

This kicks off the arts and craft season for Paso Robles as well as for us at Paso Wine Barrels. The temps will be mild with a high of about 70, which is perfect for strolling through the Park Downtown. Wine country is bristling with activity this time of year with all the wineries blooming with refreshed vineyards. And remember, there are many tasting rooms surrounding the event.

So no excuses, come on out and don’t forget to visit us at our booth.


Daryle W. Hier



PS: What a great event. We missed last years but this year, even with a somewhat blustery wind and on-and-off sprinkles all day, we had a terrific day and took several orders to boot. These events are a great way to view what we have. Hope to see more folks next time out.


No More Wine Barrels?

The world has existed with some form of wine stored in a vessel to age vino since biblical times – we’ve talked it about it the history of wine barrels in the past. The wood and eventually oak wine barrel has been around for 20 or so centuries and this past century, it became almost an art.

Wine Barrels - stacked.adj

Might this picture not exist in the future?

The ease of moving wine or any food product in a barrel was also of help. However, with wines popularity and the fact that some wines like whites, don’t necessarily need oak, steel and even concrete vats have been used for storing and aging wine. Using oak chips to impart aromas and flavor has become part of the aging process as well. But oak may not be needed anymore. Egads!

Trick yeast

Technology may eliminate the need for the oaking process, when researchers in Spain found using aromatised yeast brought similar influences without oak itself. Yeast is what makes grape juice into wine.

Yeast making beer.

Now breaking the long history of winemaking is slow and sometimes even an impossible breach. Yet, these same scientist from the University of Madrid have been able to offer up this new procedure without the long waiting times that wine takes to age. This might sound blasphemous to stalwart vintners and wine experts, but the fact remains, this breakthrough gives winemakers the potential to infuse a vast many other flavors and smells that invariably could explode the range of wines that might be produced.

This revelation is huge and although more research will be needed to back up these claims, it’s obvious that this science of yeast imparting a taste difference, is only going to grow. As a homebrewer, I understand the value that yeast brings to the table when making beer. So to contemplate how a yeast cell can be infused with other flavors, which in-turn makes changes to the process of winemaking, is definitely a game-changer.


Wine during fermentation – it might not need to be aged in a wine barrel.

Whether this slows down or ultimately replaces the need for oak wine barrels, remains to be seen. A new barrel can easily run a $1,000 and they’re only good for half-a-dozen years or so. You can see why this may be the start of big changes in the wine industry.

Barrels be gone?

With the international growth of wine consumption, oenology departments all over the world are probably working on research towards this same goal of yeast replacing oak barrels. Too be sure, research in the wine industry is far from agreeable. In fact, to get anyone in the world of vino to agree on absolutes, well, there are no absolutes in this industry.

So, is this inevitably going to happen? Hard to say, but my money is on a slow change, typical in the world of winemaking. Hopefully I’ll be gone or too old to be concerned about such changes. In the meantime, there will always be wine, regardless – Salute!

Source: University of Madrid


Daryle W. Hier



Do You Wine Taste?

Wine tasting has been taking off for some time and even regions where there aren’t vineyards, have wine tasting rooms to learn and enjoy the latest wines.

However, not eTobin_James-wine_tastingveryone has the luxury or convenience of sauntering down to the local wine tasting bar and saddle up for a sip of vino … or more. So with that we ask, have you ever done wine tasting and if so, how many times? Or are you a regular on the scene of any and every wine tasting opportunity that comes across?

Let us know and share with your friends, family and colleagues. We want to know: Do You Wine Taste?


Daryle W. Hier








Cork for the Bathroom

I was researching cork several weeks ago, when I found out that cork was being made into beautiful furniture. I believe it was IKEA that brought it to my attention. Quite a bit of it is made from recycled cork, which itself is a renewable resource. Now this blog here from a fellow blogger, Ann Porter, brings more information and looks regarding cork in the bathroom. Check it out.


Daryle W. Hier

Kitchen Studio of Naples, Inc.

These days we are pretty comfortable with the use of cork for flooring and wall treatments but the notion of a bathroom fixture made from cork is pretty spectacular.

GRANORTE, based in Portugal, is a leading sustainable flooring manufacturer and producer of cutting-edge cork products from vessels and tile to lighting and furniture.

NuSpa Cork Bathroom Fixtures | KitchAnn StyleInitially created to recycle the cork waste from the cork stoppers manufacturing industry, the GRANORTE product portfolio now includes sculpted bathtubs.

The latest robotic technology allows GRANORTE to carve beautiful tubs from solid agglomerated cork using a seven-axis robotic sculptor capable of intricate and large forms.

The cork, as a raw material, provides the perfect plasticity, warmth and comfort, and is sustainable as an ecologically harvested and recycled product.

NuSpa Cork Bathtub | KitchAnn Style

GRANTORE products have a reputation for delivering superb quality as well as eye-catching styles. They have won numerous awards such as the 2014 APCOR Innovation in Cork Award and iF DESIGN AWARD 2015; Bathroom…

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250 Years And Still Going: Hennessy

A premium brandy, cognac is a bit more pleasurable and usually better refined than brandy. Cognac comes from a certain appellation or wine-growing zone specifically in a west-central region of France. There, for 250 years, nearly half of all cognac has been created and sold by Jas Hennessy & Company … and they’re still going strong, with one big reason that might surprise you.

Started in 1765 by an Irish naval officer (Richard Hennessy) who served under King Louis the XV of France, originally Hennessy was a distiller of brandy. Brandy is usually made from fruit other than grapes, whereas Cognac is made from specific vineyards in the Cognac region of France. Just like Champagne is made from a particular area of France and no other sparkling wine can be called Champagne, so too with Cognac.

What it is

To be simply defined, cognac is a better quality than other brandys with an alcohol rating of 40%. The Trebbiano grape, also known as Ugni Blanc in France, is the primary varietal chosen. Dry, with high acidity, the yellow-toned Trebbiano doesn’t have a prominent name and is often used to blend with in wine-making; yet, its acidity trait offers cognac the perfect balance.

Made similar to wine to begin with, the Trebbiano grapes are pressed and allowed to ferment for a couple weeks. Afterwards, Hennessy takes the relatively weak wine and distills it twice in copper stills into a colorless 70% alcohol creating a unique alchemy. Then it’s placed in oak barrel casks for at least two years, before it’s bottled and sold, gaining complexity and naturally its silky bronze color. The art of aging is maybe the ultimate skill required to make excellent cognac.  Just like its wine counterpart, cognac loses water and alcohol to evaporation so by the time the cognac is ready, it’s down to 40% alcohol (80 proof).

An interesting twist in the world of alcohol, is the relationship between cognac and Port (or Porto). Port officially comes from only Portugal but in any regards, the process of making port is the enhancement it goes through to become more than a sweet or late harvest wine. Port is a fortified wine that goes through all the same processes that wine does but has brandy or cognac added when it is ready to be barreled. This gives port a symbiotic relationship with cognac where both are wines made into dessert liquors. There are many combinations of wines and mixes – go here for a list of some drinks mixing cognac. All I can say is yum and where are the cigars.

Back to business – corporately controlled by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) with world alcohol beverage giant Diageo owning a minority stake, the cognac maker is doing well. Of the major cognac producers, Hennessy’s is arguably the most distinct and innovative of the French distillers. While all the cognac makers are profitable, Hennessy is going strong. And why is this particular niche booze arena flourishing? Hip hop.

Huge with rap community

Yes, although the industry as a whole has profited from spirits upward trend worldwide, cognac has received an unlikely bounce from a demographic not thought of in the high end booze market. Still, the hip hop world has been mentioning different cognacs including Hennessy dozens of times in their raps for 20 years or more, including the late Tupac Shakur. It’s urban legend notwithstanding, Cognac appears to be above the hip hop demo what with poor and middle class young people, not capable of spending money on a high quality liquor. Regardless, the essentially free publicity has helped the cognac makers immensely.

Once thought of as an upper end type drink only for the rich and sophisticates, Courvoisier, Martell, Rémy Martin and of course Hennessy have more than gotten the attention of the general public eye and its hip hop crowd. And Hennessy has furthered the hip hop connection having sponsored events such as an exhibition of different rap artists, the year before last. Currently, if you go to Hennessy’s website, rapper Nas is front and center and the latest to promote the brand in one of their commercials.

Rapper Nas is the latest hip hop celebrity to help promote the Hennessy brand.

Oddly enough, the French are not all that cracked up about their own cognac, and in fact, are more apt to be drinking out of a good single-malt scotch glass, rather than sipping cognac from a snifter. Another peculiar twist to Hennessy – and typically French – the company made sure to let everyone know their cognac was vegan-friendly.

Hennessy’s cognac has been drank by Czars over two centuries ago, by young hip hop fans nowadays and everyone in between. The spirit found its way onshore of the United States more than 220 years ago. Americans are its biggest fans and young and old, rich and poor enjoy imbibing in the esteemed hard liquor. Hennessy’s legacy has proven itself for 250 years and counting, still going strong and maybe more popular than ever before.


Daryle W. Hier